It seems like you can’t throw a rock without hitting a person in entertainment who will decry the sexism of the current administration. There’s no shortage of artists, musicians, actors, and more who are very expressive as they lament the fact that the “grab ’em by the pussy” guy holds the highest office in the land, or share their outrage regarding the president’s statements about Mika Brzezinski, or call out the misogyny of pundits who argue that women are unfit to lead because they don’t like the way their voices sound.
Here’s the guitarist for the alt-rock band The Offspring making just such a point on Twitter just last week:
— Many Sided Noodles (@TheGnudz) July 3, 2017
The Offspring aren’t a band that are particularly relevant these days, but this sentiment of Kevin John Wasserman, who goes by the stage name “Noodles,” is—because it comes just days before Wasserman posted a lengthy defense of undeniably misogynistic behavior from Leonard Grave Phillips, frontman for legendary Southern California punk band The Dickies.
Phillips, at a Warped Tour performance in late June, decided to respond to a female crew member who displayed a sign during the band’s set that read “Teen girls deserve respect, not gross jokes from disgusting old men! Punk shouldn’t be predatory!” The sign, according to Noisey, was a response to Phillips’s habit of making jokes about having sex with teenagers from the stage. Phillips’s reaction to seeing the sign was captured on video:
— Netflix Origanal (@thechubbywubby) June 26, 2017
The rant is fairly shocking, even from a frontman whose stage persona involves provoking shock. It’s not the first time in recent years that Phillips has crossed lines on stage, either—in 2015, he apologized for hitting a female fan, explaining that he “konked a gal on the head while pulling her hair” because she had touched a stage prop. This time out, though, the apology was somewhat less than sincere: He acknowledged that the word he called her that began with a “C” is “inflammatory,” and that he “should have called her an ‘asshole,'” but otherwise defended his behavior as part of a stage routine that he’s been performing for years. (“It wasn’t my proudest moment, but neither was the time I urinated on the audience,” he explained.)
A guy in a punk band being a sexist jerk isn’t news, but it’s disappointing to see a guy like Wasserman, who can identify misogyny clearly when it comes from someone he disagrees with, find a way to defend that kind of behavior when it comes from one of his heroes.
“Who would’ve thought that, in 2017, The Dickies would become ‘The Most Dangerous Band In America?’,” Wasserman wrote on Instagram, “I’d like to congratulate The Dickies on finally achieving this great honor and distinction.” He went on to call the woman whom Phillips berated a “passive-aggressive idiot,” explaining that “it takes some real guts (or is it idiocy?) to demand a ‘safe space’ where nobody really wants or expects one to be, even though it really is a pretty goddamn safe place to begin with.”
There are a few things worth unpacking in Wasserman’s statement. Certainly, punk rock is a pretty safe space for certain members of its community. (It’s a place where a grown man can demand he be called “Noodles”!) But the idea that “nobody really wants or expects” safety from sexist jokes in that space speaks more to what it’s like to be a 54-year-old white guy in a community that’s given him a nice life than it does to the inherent nature of punk rock. If ridiculing women who are upset about sexist remarks because they came from someone you admire is punk rock, Kellyanne Conway should be getting fitted for liberty spikes.
Who would've thought that, in 2017, The Dickies would become "The Most Dangerous Band In America?" I'd like to congratulate The Dickies on finally achieving this great honor and distinction. Though they've long been one of my favorite bands I never thought of them as dangerous. Sure they play loud and fast but they're also so goddamn melodic and fun. I honestly don't see how anyone could seriously take offense from anything they do or say. Perhaps that just makes this achievement all the more important, so congratulations to The Dickies, and thank you for your years of service to the punk rock cause. I'd also like to thank the passive-aggressive idiot, or idiots, who precipitated this event by protesting a joke, from the side of the slam pit, at a punk rock show. It takes some real guts (or is it idiocy?) to demand a "safe space" where nobody really wants or expects one to be, even though it really is a pretty goddamn safe place to begin with. I am also looking forward to seeing The Dickies tomorrow night with @vandalsofficial , @wellhungheart and @guttermouthofficial because fuck you, kiss my ass, blow me, blow me, blow me, you fat fucking cunts and assholes. Sincerely, Noodles
“Noodles” isn’t alone in defending Phillips’s tirade at all costs, either. Eagles of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes went on a similar Insta-rant days later, spewing an exclamation point-riddled paragraph about the problem with “safe spaces,” full of bon mots like “long live the notion that rock ‘n’ roll is about saying whatever the fuck you want!!!!!! Especially if it’s offensive to people Who are weak cowardly and can’t stand for anyone else to be free !!!!” and “The enemies of free speech must be stopped at all costs!!!!”
The Dickies forever !!!!the Dickies for all time!!!! long live freedom of speech and long live the notion that rock 'n' roll is about saying whatever the fuck you want!!!!!! Especially if it's offensive to people Who are weak cowardly and can't stand for anyone else to be free !!!!sticks and stones, my friends,sticks and stones!!!….., and PS a safe zone is a place that exists in your home not at the place you voluntarily drive to and walk into and sit in an audience of that exists in a public place….. maybe the people that don't like the Dickies can start a Gofundme for a good old fashioned "offensive" book bonfire!!!! Or maybe the enemies of free speech can start a Gofuckyourselffund campaign !!!I think we could raise money for that!!!! The enemies of free speech must be stopped at all costs!!!! Does anyone remember Lenny Bruce….. if Jim Morrison's obscenity arrest in Florida had taken place today I wonder how many members of the crowd would've cheered for the police…. and I don't know if anyone knows this about rock 'n' roll but it's been sexualized from the get go i.e. the words rock and roll…. or maybe the fact that every fucking rock 'n' roll song is either about butt fucking or having sex with a 16 or 17-year-old. allow me to quote the Beatles "she was just 17"….. or l"Ringo Starr "she 16 she's beautiful and she's mine",…. or how about Willie Dixon "I'm your back door man The men don't know but the little girls they understand". Or Bill Haley and the comets "I'm like a one eyed cat peeping in the seafood store"..,or Beyoncé's "naughty girl"….. and for anyone who is curious as to whether or not Rock'n'Roll has got something to do with penises in general just listen to grace Jones's "pull up to the bumper" or open up the cover to the Steppenwolf album entitled " for ladies only" or listen to basically any of the fucking lyrics to any PJ Harvey song….(but if you talk to your psychiatrist he'll tell you that everything has to do with penises from skyscrapers to the cover of Disney's "little mermaid") what would happen if we tried to remake Fast Times at Ridgemont High today. we could call it "Safe times or else"!! #thedickies
Those are sentiments you might find on a Reddit thread full of Pepe avatars, but the fact that both Wasserman and Hughes invoked “safe spaces” as the problem, even as they declare that the great injustice suffered to punk rock was that there were some slight social consequences (the band completed the tour as planned) for a 60-year-old man who led a crowd in a chant “Blow me! Blow me!” to a woman who challenged him. If punk rock can’t survive challenges like that after 40-plus years, then perhaps it wasn’t worth keeping around this long in the first place.